SBC News Tabcorp exploring sublicensing Melbourne Cup TV rights

Tabcorp exploring sublicensing Melbourne Cup TV rights

Tabcorp has invited commercial television networks to express  an interest in purchasing the domestic broadcast rights for the Melbourne Cup.

The ASX-listed gambling group has asserted that it expects the deal could generate up to AU$100m (£53,171,300) over five years.

Tapcorp already owns the international broadcasting rights to the thoroughbred event, and has now been granted permission by the Victoria Racing Club (VRC) to explore interest in sub-licensing the domestic rights before it agrees to sign a deal for them.

The Melbourne Cup, the Australian Financial Review (AFR) reported, is likely to end up with Tabcorp, but this still depends on the money it can make from sub-licensing the rights to a television network.

The AFR explained that securing a deal with Tabcorp or any other potential bidder is ‘vital’ to the VRC as it moves to secure its financial position. 

“Two sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said Tabcorp was the preferred bidder for the rights. It needs to sublicense the race due to federal anti-siphoning laws,” the report continued.

The terms of the deal have not been finalised and there is no guarantee a deal will go ahead as a result of the market tender.

MD and CEO of Tabcorp, Adam Rytenskild, declined to comment, but last week said the domestic rights were a ‘natural evolution’ of the company’s relationship with the event.

“In terms of the VRC, we’ve been partners with the VRC from the very beginning,” Rytenskild added. “We really value that partnership. We want to do more with them in time to not just grow as part of the Melbourne Cup carnival, but to grow Flemington and for them to help us grow.

“The VRC is thinking about it in that way because of our partnership, our capability. We already have got their international rights, so domestic rights for the Melbourne Cup carnival is an opportunity for us to grow. That’s how we are thinking about it.”

If it goes ahead, the deal would become the first time a wagering business owns all rights to the ‘biggest horse race in the country’.  

The AFR also highlighted that Ten – the incumbent domestic rights holder – is owned by Paramount, and has offered millions of dollars to other sporting codes with ‘minimal success’. 

It is reportedly in the prime position to retain the rights, but it is unclear if it would want to pay more than the $100m it originally offered under a five-year deal in 2018.

Seven executives are interested in securing the rights, but are not expected to pay the amount offered by Ten under the prior deal. Seven already shows horse racing on other Melbourne tracks throughout the spring carnival and feature races in Melbourne and Sydney.

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